Gun Review: Ruger AR-556

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What’s the difference between Ruger’s AR-556 and their SR-556? About 1.5 pounds and $1246.00. Actually, there’s a little more to it than that, mechanically speaking. Ruger has been making their SR-556 and SR-762 rifles for some time, but with the introduction of the AR-556 it looks like they are finally getting into the down-and-dirty business of budget AR-15 production. So what exactly sets their latest creation apart? . . .

The new AR-556 has a gas-impingement system, just like the original AR-15 rifle design. For those who don’t know what that means, in simplified terms, the AR is a gas-operated rifle that used the expanding gasses from the firing sequence to unlock the bolt directly via a tube that passes from under the front sight, to a gas key connection on top of the bolt carrier. Most other gas operated rifles – including Ruger’s SR series – use a gas piston and op-rod to unlock the bolt after firing. The AK, M1, M14, the new M4-A4, and a host of others use a version of that basic mechanism.

Both types have their advantages. The gas piston mechanism results in a much cleaner firing system; all the carbon fouling stays on the end of the piston-more or less. The gas impingement system is like a smog device for your car: all the gunk ends up in the engine, or in this case, the bolt and carrier. It’s a much dirtier arrangement. However, the gas-impingement rifle has much less reciprocating mass, giving it an edge in accuracy.  The piston/op-rod guns have a much heavier mass (relatively speaking) of metal moving before the bullet exits the barrel. Personally, I’m fine with the original design; especially if it’s battle-proven and 100% reliable, and $1200 dollars cheaper to boot.

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The Ruger AR-556 is a no frills M4-type carbine that has a 1:8 inch twist barrel, which should make all the bloggers happy, since it should stabilize bullet weights up to (at least) 77 grains (and down to 35 grains) in weight. The barrel profile is the semi-heavy version without the cuts for a grenade launcher and it isn’t chrome-lined. The chamber is cut for the 5.56 (and .223) round and utilizes the improved M4 feed ramp for increased reliability.

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The rifle has the standard M4 post front sight, adjustable for elevation (Ruger supplies the tool). The flash hider is attached via threads. The standard M4 type hand guards are well-shaped and tight fitting; nothing rattles around, and they are a bit smaller (and more comfortable) than the usual M4 jobs. The upper receiver has a forward assist and an optics rail. There is also Ruger’s own flip-up (or fold-down) rear sight, which is adjustable for windage via a thumb screw.

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The lower Receiver is pretty standard with it six-position stock and military trigger. The trigger broke at eight pounds and was better than most out-of-the-box military M4 rifles I’ve tried. The hand grip was not standard M4; it was much better shaped, fitting my hand like the proverbial glove, and providing just the right distance to the trigger…for me anyway. The entire rifle is finished in a black oxide. By the way, there’s no front sling swivel, but there is an attachment point for one as well as a bayonet, bipod, or other device.

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I started out trying to sight in the rifle at fifty yards using the factory sights. Luckily for me, the rifle was pretty dead-on right out of the box. The trouble began when I kept trying to get a nice group for a picture for this article. My eyes just are not up to the task. Oh, I can hit three-dimensional soda cans at eighty yards with the AR-556 using its iron sights, but trying to group five shots on a two-dimensional target just seems to be an exercise in futility for me.

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After plinking away 100 rounds or so, I noticed I was down on ammo, so I took the Burris scope off of my Bushmaster Carbon-15 and mounted it on the Ruger. I was able to shoot a respectable group at 50 yards using my remaining ammo: Hornady’s 75 grain 5.56 BTHP load. No attempt was made to zero the sights. I just fired the group as-is and while it was high and to the right, it wasn’t embarrassing.

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The Ruger AR-556 handled all the different loads I had on hand with 100% reliability. It’s well-balanced and handled beautifully. Functioning was as smooth as a custom M4. It even deposited the fired cases in a neat pile about six feet to the right/rear of the shooter. Just as good as a Bushmaster or Smith & Wesson, it comes in with a more suitable 1:8 twist for shooting the 75-77 grain bullets that are gaining in popularity. While I wish Ruger had used a fold-down front sight, the Ruger AR-556 is a keeper.

Specifications: Ruger AR-556
CALIBER:  5.56 NATO and .223 Remington
CAPACITY:  Comes with one 30-round magazine
BARREL:  16.1 inch semi-heavy profie with 1:8 twist
FINISH:  Type III hard-cast anodized (black oxide)
STOCK:  Six-position collapsible
WEIGHT:  6.5 lbs.
SIGHTS:  A2 front, Ruger folding rear with A3 rail
MSRP:  $749 (more like $599-ish from Brownells)

Ergonomics:* * * * *
It handles like an M4. The pistol grip is shaped perfectly, for me anyway. The trigger broke cleanly.

Reliability: * * * * *
No feeding or ejection problems of any kind with either rifle or magazine.

Value: * * * * *
An entry-level AR carbine should be reasonably priced. This one is.

Sights: * * * *
The rear sight is plastic and might not stand up to hard use. ALL M4 type carbines need a fold-down front sight for a clean sight picture when using 1X optics.

Barrel: * * * * 1/2
PLUS for its 1:8 Twist; MINUS for not being chrome-lined. With 5.56 ammo all being non-corrosive, a chrome-lined barrel is probably not really necessary.

Extras: * * * * *
The Ruger-supplied front sight tool can be used on your other M4s as well. What’s not to like?

Overall Rating: * * * * 1/2
This gun may leave some items on your wish list unchecked, but as a package – at that price – it has no real flaws.

comments

  1. avatar Accur81 says:

    Nice review. The lack of chrome lining probably makes it more accurate, if you swap out the Mil-spec trigger. I’d buy one if I didn’t already have a 1/2 dozen ARs.

    1. avatar Jimbo says:

      Lack of chrome lining never makes a barrel more accurate. It is touted as a plus for match barrels because chrome lining can be used to conceal minuscule imperfections in the bore/rifling that would lead to marginally larger groups. A budget rifle like this is not going to have its barrel rejected because of tiny imperfections that would mean less than perfect groups.

      It’s OK, though, that the barrel is not chrome lined, since you’re unlikely to encounter corrosive 5.56NATO, and really, all you’d need to do is run a boresnake covered in machine oil to keep the bore unrusted if you did.

      1. avatar Ray says:

        When the chrome wears out, it becomes less accurate than a rifle not chromed.

        1. avatar Dubbz says:

          Usually when the chrome lining wears out in a 5.56 shooter the BARREL is also WORN OUT. Replace barrel , shoot , repeat . Funny you overlook that the chrome lined barrels tend to LAST 10,000 plus rounds longer than non chrome lined.

          If not chrome lined then I’ll take melonited / nitride barrels.

  2. avatar Scrubula says:

    A bit of a beef on the rating system, 3 stars is supposed to be average and 5 is outstanding, best in class.
    Would you actually rate this as almost the best option out there (with comparable features and price) or is it just a solid choice?

    1. avatar Anner says:

      +1

      It’s a stock AR/DI with a flip up rear sight, not a custom 3-gun setup. Ergo and value I can see as 5 stars. But “extras” is 5 with the justification that it includes a front sight tool. Throw in 4 mags, a sling, and a pelican case and I’d throw in 5 stars.

    2. avatar CA.Ben says:

      I know that the ratings on TTAG are compared to similar products. So the five stars is compared to other entry level ARs. Not compared to top shelf three gun options.

  3. avatar Nine says:

    Well, I know what I’m asking Santa for.

    1. avatar Tile floor says:

      I hate the AR-556 because ruger discontinued the piston driven 556e model 🙁 I love mine

  4. avatar A-Rod says:

    I want an AR rifle. I do not want an AR carbine. Anyone still make a decent M16A2 upper receiver type setup rifle? I want an AR that says ‘boot camp’ not ‘tacticool’. I do not want a scope on it, red dot, Trijicon, EOtech, or any of that set up stuff. I just want the basic rifle and none of the upgrades. Anyone still make that or has it gone the way of the Dodo?

    1. avatar FoRealz? says:

      Well, this might get you something you might like. Check out the Colt AR15A4.

      http://www.colt.com/Catalog/Rifles/AR15A4.aspx

      I would also be super interested in a Ruger if they started offering a plain Jane one with 20″ rifle length.

      1. avatar Neil D says:

        Article short time ago about Colt going bankrupt. If any truth to that might be best to buy another brand.

        1. avatar Van den lin says:

          Colt in bankruptcy is probably like the airlines in bankruptcy, it happens every decade or two but the company never really goes away.

    2. avatar AllAmerican says:

      I was actually just in your position a few ago, and the picked up this beauty.

      https://www.stagarms.com/model-4/

      The MSRP is roughly 1,000- however at my LGS I was able to get it for 850 flat.

      It’s exactly like the m16A4 I was issued in basic in 2007. Love it. However I took the A2 style hand guards off and put the old Vietnam A1 hand guards on. Because I just love the way it looks.

    3. avatar HarmsArms says:

      FNH just released a civ version of the M16a2-a4

      They make the M16 and M4 series for the Military.

    4. avatar Accur81 says:

      There’s the Ruger SR-556 Varmint Target AR with a stainless / piston / 20″ barrel / non-collapsible buttstock. You could go with a non-collapsible lower in 5.56 length or .308 lenght and get a 20″ upper. Alexander Arms, amongst a host if others, offers complete rifles with 20″ barrels and a bunch of user-selectable upgrades.

    5. avatar cmdrlimpet says:

      I’ve had a Rock River A2 for years and it has been a joy.
      Plus their excellent two stage trigger comes standard.

      You can select the A2 (Carry handle) upper here:
      http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=225

    6. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I’m not an AR guy, so forgive me if this is a dumb question – is there any advantage to a longer than 16″ barrel on a 5.56 AR, or is it more just an aesthetic/personal preference issue? I understand the advantages of a longer sight plane, I’m more asking if 5.56/.223 ammo can take advantage of the longer barrel.

      1. avatar 277Volt says:

        If you plan to shoot mostly mil-spec ammo at average military yardages, that ammo is designed around a 16″ barrel.

        If you’re looking at shooting at extended distance either for varmint or match situations then you may benefit from the added velocity of a longer barrel and more specialized loads.

        1. avatar jmk says:

          Um…no.

          Military barrel is (now) 14.5 in.

          M16 was designed around 20in barrel. Powder burns out shortly thereafter. So yes the cartridge & rifle benefit from a 20bbl.

          Longer barrel = higher velocity = longer range with flatter trajectory.

          Advantage of 16 in barrel is that it’s the shortest legal barrel length w/o going NFA.

          For civilians, this is “the best” length.

        2. avatar DJ9 says:

          Powder burns out shortly after reaching 20″? BS.

          The 5.56mm/.223 is subject to the same ballistic rules as other, similar, centerfire rifle cartridges. It’s parent cartridge was the lower-powered .222 Remington, which commonly used a 24-inch or longer barrel, and still benefited from the longer length. You might not gain the same amount of FPS-per-inch-of-barrel when comparing the increases from 14.5″ to 20″ with the increases from 20″ to 24″, but there WILL be increases.

          At the end of the old Assault Weapons Ban, I commissioned a 24″ heavy match AR upper to be used for hunting, and had it set up the same as a regular 20″ (flash suppressor and basically non-working bayonet lug, just to bug the anti-gunners), but had them add a free-float tube. It works the same as a 20″ heavy match barrel, grouping no better or worse, but hits significantly harder at longer ranges (150 FPS faster than a 20″). The resulting AR is almost exactly the same length as my Remington 700 with the same 24″ barrel, and it replaced another 24″-barreled bolt-action .223 as my primary hunting rifle for fur-bearers and medium varmints.

        3. avatar Mark S says:

          JMK, Most of the military now carrys the M4 which is 14.5 inches. The Marines are the only leftovers that use the 20 inch barrel and that is soon to change as they also are going over to a ‘carbine’. Ammo is no longer designed for the 20 inch barrels.

      2. avatar 277Volt says:

        jmk, I stand corrected. Thanks.

        1. avatar Indiana Mike says:

          5.56 was based on .222 Magnum. The case mouth is a little longer on .222 Mag than 5.56. As far as when the powder burns out, that depends on what powder you use. Lots of things affect powder burn rate; ball powder grain size, and length and cut on extruded powders. On both, the burn rate is drastically affected by the coatings used. Powders can be partially matched to barrel length to try to get max efficiency. Faster powders in general give a more sudden burn rate at higher temperature and pressure pulse. Slower powders in general burn less suddenly, for a longer period of time and may develop lower pressure pulse and be more suited to longer barrels. That’s why pistol powders like Bullseye burns so fast and Heavy caliber rifle powders burn so slowly like 7828. Many variables of course but theses are the basics.

      3. avatar TT says:

        DJ9, there is some scientifically rigorous testing out there with M855 ammo that showed velocity peaked at 20″. Velocity actually dropped a little in barrels over 20″.

        1. avatar DJ9 says:

          Yes, after seeing your comment, I just searched-out and read some of it. I guess this is not surprising, that a cartridge designed for military use in a 20″ barrel is peaking in a 20″ barrel, but the older M193 (that was originally adopted with the M16 rifle) certainly didn’t follow the same trend; as I said above, it doesn’t gain as fast as it does in the shorter lengths, but it still gains (saw one set of numbers close to mine, but none that matched or exceeded them). And my experience with .223 loads closely matches some data from the same article; I showed 150 FPS gain over a second gun with the shorter barrel, while they showed a 140 FPS loss in a barrel shortened from 24″ to 20″.

          As a general statement, though, as long as you match the load to the barrel length and intended use, you WILL get higher velocities with a long barrel than a shorter one. Whether it’s worth the extra weight/length/trouble is up to the user to decide, but making a general statements about a cartridge and the utility of longer barrels based solely on one or two military loadings seems a bit misleading. Civilians aren’t limited to the use of military ammo, nor is it even appropriate for many common uses.

          Stinkeye’s question, above, was whether or not 5.56mm/.223 ammo can take advantage of a barrel longer than 16″, and I’d say the answer to THAT question, for civilians, is definitely yes.

        2. avatar DBM says:

          Guess I’m getting old cause I find the discussion of AR rifle weights silly. I grew up carrying HEAVY guns and hearing people whine about how heavy an M-4 is makes me wonder what has happened to the young men in America. If a 6.5 to 7.5 lb rifle is too heavy for you then get out from behind the TV and go to the gym.
          The Army went to short barreled weapons so they could get in and out of vehicles easier. It also fit into combat doctrine that said you would be up close and personal when the shooting started and moving fast. That’s where we ran into so much trouble in the middle east and Afghanistan. Engagement ranges seldom married up with doctrine. In most of the Eastern US and Urban area’s 100 meters is what your going to be shooting.
          Hunting? The longer barrel is worth the tiny bit of additional weight.
          More powerful rounds to compensate? True the rifle can handle more pressure but no one ever talks about the rest of the weapon. Gonna need a stronger spring and heavier buffer. And lets not forget you’re going to need a larger gas tube and redesigned gas rings on the bolt or your going to end up with the exact same problems the original AR-15 had in Vietnam.

        3. avatar TT says:

          No doubt, generally speaking longer barrels give more velocity. The main point that often gets overlooked is that 5.56 was designed for a 20″ barrel. When you start firing it out of much shorter barrels, you will lose performance, and not just velocity. The 15% or so reduction in velocity a 10″ barrel sees versus a 20″ barrel results in about a 28% loss of impact energy in a round that doesn’t have all that much energy to begin with. And that’s at the muzzle. The spread between velocity and lost energy will get even greater as you go downrange.

          Based on what I’ve studied about 5.56 ballistics, I would stop at 16″. If I needed a shorter weapon, I’d look for something other than an AR.

      4. avatar Jeff says:

        Everything else has already been mentioned – 5.56 generally averages its highest velocities in a 20″ barrel.

        Some also offer an 18″ barrel now as a sort of go-between from 16″ to 20″.

        There are also others who offer mid-length or rifle-length gas systems on 16″ and 18″ barrels, so you can get the maximum sight radius with the shorter barrels. The longer gas systems also make for a softer-shooting rifle, as the carbine-length gas system on an average M4 clone produces a higher pressure spike than any other gas system length.

        Everyone has their opinion on this, but personally I think a mid-length gas 16″ carbine is the best all around AR setup.

        Unless you’re shooting very long ranges, you probably will never get much out of the additional barrel length. The mid-length gas system provides a nice, long sight radius when using iron sights, good weight balance, and more reliable (subjective, but some claim to have verified it), smoother cycling then the carbine length gas system.

        1. avatar Taro Tsujimoto says:

          “Everyone has their opinion on this, but personally I think a mid-length gas 16″ carbine is the best all around AR setup.”

          Agreed. Why this is not the standard baffles me. if Ruger had gone midlength with this they would have had something that really stood out from their competition.

        2. avatar Jimbo says:

          16″ barrel is too long for realistic use. Unless you’re shooting out to several hundred meters on a consistent basis and having things shoot back at you, a 10.3″ barrel will do the job for a house gun or a truck gun. Yeah, boohoo, lost velocity, but unless you’re actually measuring your shot and working with your little mil-dot or horus reticle, there’s no advantage to a tiny amount of extra velocity for a significantly more awkward rifle.

      5. avatar janitor says:

        i believe the USMC prefers the 20”

        1. avatar B says:

          Seems to me they prefer the 16.5″ on the fully auto M27.

        2. avatar Jimbo says:

          USMC only still uses 20″ guns because they can’t afford to replace them right now. M16A4s are only in use by backround troops guarding parking lots. Everyone in real danger is using M4s. Everyone facing imminent threats(MARSOC, etc.) is using Mk18s. M27 IAR has a 16.5″ barrel because it’s meant to serve as an LMG, not as a normal rifle, and they like the idea of milking slightly more velocity out of it to shoot it as far as they shoot the M249.

      6. avatar Jimbo says:

        Best length for civilians is 10.3″. It takes all standard AR-15 parts, but is also short enough to be reasonable. 10.3/10.4 inches is proven effective at ranges FAR longer than any civilian will ever need to stop a threat(not uncommon at all for military to run Mk18s/416s with magnifiers/ACOGs/Elcans to shoot it at the same distances as an M4 or Mk12). 10.3″ barrel is about 90% of the velocity of a 14.5″ barrel. Do you honestly need the ~10% for shooting a buttpirate from accross your living room? No. People lose their shit over barrel length, but the reality is that the extra length might make your rifle more effective ON PAPER, but it will only make your rifle more awkward in REALITY.

        1. avatar Surly Old Armorer says:

          Bullshit. Unless you’re shooting nothing but expensive boutique ammo, a 10″ barrel is launching bullets at velocities too low to reliably yaw and fragment even at the muzzle, let alone any useful distance downrange.

        2. avatar Mike Magnum says:

          I agree with Surly Old Armorer 100% – “Bullshit. Unless you’re shooting nothing but expensive boutique ammo, a 10″ barrel is launching bullets at velocities too low to reliably yaw and fragment even at the muzzle, let alone any useful distance downrange.” Mike Magnum – Vietnam Era Veteran – Bring back the Full Auto M-16 !!!

    7. avatar jmkcolorado says:

      20in Upper:
      http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/AR-15-20-Rifle-Upper-Group-s/26.htm
      –includes top qual BCG

      Lower:
      http://www.gandrtactical.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=LWR-BCM
      I prefer the adjustable stock, even on a 20.

      You want an Aimpoint whether you think you do or not. Hey, *that’s* Boot Camp these days. 🙂

    8. avatar int19h says:

      Try Fulton Armory FAR-15.

    9. avatar Jake says:

      Try bushmaster they make a 16 sort of. Olympic arms makes an A2 style rifle. Or build your own. That’s what I’ve done the last few. Easier to get the parts I want and still keep it on a budget.

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    This looks really good for the $. Maybe better than the S&W Sport. I saw online one selling for $609(Illinois). I’m not an AR guy but the Ruger name means I may jump in to the fun.

  6. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    I picked up a Smith Sport over the Summer for 6 bills, out the door.

    It is the first AR I’ve bought since the Colt I purchased in Mass., of all places, in 1980.

    It is a solid shooter as well.

    Had the Ruger been available then, I would’ve given it a good looking over as well. I imagine it will mate with
    the .300 AAR upper I intend on piecing together just fine as well.

    Good review…

  7. avatar RightYouAreKen says:

    Agree with some others. Had this been available several years ago when I bought my Bushmaster, I would have likely gone with the Ruger instead. Nice rifle.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    My eyes just are not up to the task.

    Oh, man, I feel your pain.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Yup. Bifocals and counting.

    2. avatar 277Volt says:

      Same here. Buckhorns replaced with peeps on all my lever actions.

  9. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    I don’t how you could possibly go wrong with this rifle. Lots of up market features, but at an entry level price point. Plus the vaunted Ruger name. What it doesn’t have, most probably wouldn’t know or notice, let alone miss. Buy it. It’s a winner.

    Oh, and nice review, too.

  10. avatar C. says:

    Very interested in this Ruger. I don’t know much about ARs, will the lack of chrome-lining in the barrel cause any problems?

    1. avatar 277Volt says:

      Not for the average shooter. If you live in an extremely humid (think tropics) climate or shoot corrosive ammo (I’ve never heard of corrosive 5.56) then you might see a benefit from chrome lining.

      1. avatar dubbs says:

        I think for $600 the ruger AR 556 is decent for the avg civilian shooter and a fairlfy good deal. 2-3 moa with commercial ammo at LGS shelves. Good for plinking and HD if it got to that and dialing “9-1-1” was not an option.

        I , for one, am TIRED of all the “piston is superior” BS- if vets like Travis Haley and Pat Rogers can happily run basic AR platforms without whining, avg joes can too!( doubt any civilian shooter is going to find himself magically transported to the poppy fields of Afghanistan)

        My only gripe is that being former L.E. and a private contractor, I used a Colt LE 6940, and now on BCM and Spikes ARs- I too think chrome lining spells longer life as well as the 4150/ CMV barrels- at $600 you can mail order a Palmetto State Armory CMV,chrome lined Barreled upper with 1:7 twist, then mate it to a decent complete lower( in my area you can buy a Stag or PSA complete lower at a LGS for $275.00)

        If I didnt have those options, I would definitely pick up this Ruger AR NIB, and feel good about it…..

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Not really. There isn’t any 5.56/.223 ammo out there with corrosive primers (that I know of), so keep your rifle reasonably clean, and the lack of chrome won’t make any difference. Chrome is harder than steel, so it’s conceivable that this barrel would wear out faster than a chrome-lined one, but when you talk about “wearing out” a barrel, you’re talking tens of thousands of rounds downrange. If you can afford to shoot that much, you can afford a pricier rifle than this one.

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        Well… I wouldn’t go that far.

        Chrome lining is milspec for a reason, and the US military has never issued corrosive-primed 5.56mm ammunition that I know of. It’s not to protect the bore from corrosive primer residue. It’s to aid in extraction.

        The relatively low mass of the bolt carrier group–low, when we compare it to the gas piston and bolt carrier of an AKM, or the bolt and op rod of a Garand–means that the AR15/M16 type rifle exerts relatively little force on the cartridge during primary extraction, which is why the design has always been prone to extraction problems, especially when dirty, that no number of blue O-rings under the extractor or other Band-aid fixes can quite alleviate.

        The hard chrome applied to a milspec rifle’s bore and chamber drastically reduces the surface friction, and is the difference between a rifle like the XM16/M16E1 issued in Vietnam, that will require the men carrying it in harm’s way to tape a steel cleaning rod to the handguard to punch out empties under fire, and the much improved reliability of the M16A1/A2.

      2. avatar Melvin Hoskins says:

        The comment about “thousands of rounds” suggests to me that the shooter has lots of money and lots of time to spend on the range. It also suggests that either his spouse goes to the range with him, and is happy not spending money on things for the home, or that he is a bachelor. When I go to the range, I consider 3 hours to be sufficient to check out my rifles. I can shoot perhaps 500 rounds in that length of time, spread among 3 guns. I am happy when I can get all my rounds in the black (or red, if that is the case). As for home defense, my homesite is about 4/12 acres, of which over half is heavily wooded. So I don’t need 500 yard accuracy. Not legal to shoot an “intruder” on someone else’s land. I have 5 Ruger guns now, and am anxious to save up enough cash stash to add the AR-556 to my collection of 29 guns, 2 of which are 5.56.

  11. avatar Michael B. says:

    The barrel’s not even nitrided?

    1. avatar David Webb says:

      The barrel, as well as the rest of the rifle, is nitrided. I don’t know why they failed to mention this, it’s a relatively important detail.

  12. avatar Tile floor says:

    Doesn’t look like a bad budget AR. I was lucky to pick up an SR-556e for 899 the other day on clearance.

  13. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

    I’ll bet you that someone will be selling these things for $556 this christmas or thanksgiving.

    Not a bat price IMHO!!!

  14. avatar DBM says:

    Just another AR. Add $200 for a decent trigger so the average guy can hit something.

    1. avatar jmkcolorado says:

      An 8lb trigger on an AR is too heavy, but no need to spend $200.

      spend $45 on one of these and get a “perfect” MilSpec trigger @ around 5.5 lbs.
      http://algdefense.com/quality-mil-spec-trigger-qms.html

      1. avatar DBM says:

        Thanks JM. I based the 200 on a Timney Drop in trigger. No muss no fuss and usually easy to do.

  15. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    I personally have no need for an AR15 type rifle. Too many arm and shoulder surgeries.
    But
    I want one.
    Ive been looking at entry Smiths and BushMasters for a few months.
    Then saw this as coming out eventually and said I want this one.
    After this the 1st review Ive seen.
    I guess I just have to find one now???

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      Have you ever shot a gas-operated .223/5.56 rifle before? There is almost zero felt recoil. Perfect rifle for someone with that type of injury. See if you can try one out at the range.

      1. avatar DBM says:

        I have a SCAR17 (.308/7.62 Cal). A female friend who has had major work on both shoulders fired it and came away smiling. Just pull the M-4/16 snugly into your shoulder and all you will feel is a light push.

  16. avatar Retired Para says:

    Looking at the rifle, I’m a bit confused how that front sight post is “standard.” Looking at the pics the pins for the FSP are on top of the barrel, not the bottom. Seems to me that this would limit the shooter to using propriety parts and barrels.

    1. avatar FoRealz? says:

      Yeah there are a couple things that are different about it. Like how the hand guards are retained. They are threaded on, but you can put any standard ones on it.

      Check out in Jeff Quinns vid on it:

  17. avatar Steve says:

    +1 on the BCM upper. I did a ton of research before I built my first AR and ended up going with theirs. Top quality all around and generally they have had some decent sales lately.

  18. avatar Tim says:

    Wow, cheaper than the mini-14, huh? If its comparable, it is a dependable rifle. My mini shoots just about everything great. And much easier to clear a casing than pulling the charging handle and banging the butt stock on the ground. Don’t think the wife will let me with mini, 300 blkout, M&P 15 and Bushmaster .308.

  19. avatar josh says:

    Here’s what I dont understand when people say there’s an edge in di having less moving mass, but heres what i understand that contradicts that, the bullet leaves the muzzle before the gas piston system actually starts moving to “reciprocate mass”(this is also why piston guns dont have near the timing issues when going sbr and running surpressed) . therefore leaving that di guns are better off in the accuracy dept. that being said i think it has more or less to do with barrel harmonics. Having a stiffer profile of a piston housing would create that harmonic issue as the bullets pass, not the gas system it self moving. With optics a m1 garand with good ammo shoots sub moa. I believe that stoner kept in mind that the piston gun added more weight to a gun with already enough, and wanting to keep weight down (hence part of the 1.5lbs difference) opted out for a revolutionary approach. A sealed Direct impingement design followed, which i admire, and i like both. But there are little accuracy difference between the two, and piston guns can go longer between cleanings, its just fact.

  20. avatar Jimbo says:

    The writer needs a lesson in basic mechanics. All gas-operated guns are “gas impingement.” All. The AR-15 also has a piston, it’s just a single piece combined with the bolt. The piston is stationary while the cylinder is the portion that is accelerated, similar to how the piston system on an LWRC works, only larger, and with gas rings(like the piston on a 416 or SCAR).

    The only portion the standard AR-15 lacks is the operating rod(just as a Tavor lacks an operating rod, except the Tavor still uses a separate piston).

  21. avatar Jimbo says:

    FYI, the action doesn’t start moving until the bullet leaves the barrel. The action is unlocked largely by residual pressure. This does include short stroke piston systems, not just long stroke(which the AR-15 is).

  22. avatar DrewR55 says:

    I handled one of these at a local sporting goods retailer a few weeks ago and I’d like to take it to the range to see how it handles. I was surprised by how light it felt to me. I doubt that it actually is but the rifle felt kind of flimsy to me.

    That said, I like Ruger products and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase this one if I were in the market for a new AR

  23. avatar John says:

    Walked into a local shop 2 days ago and noticed the “Ruger” sticker on the barrel of an AR………thought is was just a car sticker that someone had put there “just because”…….I was stunned when they told me it actually WAS a RUGER AR 556 ! ! First Ruger AR I had ever seen, and turns out it is also the first Ruger AR I have ever bought! BUT……while trying out some different sight options we found a problem…LOOSE BARREL ! !
    SAY WHAT??? Yup….the barrel was definitely loose where it meets the upper so we started working through it.

    Tryed everything to simply tighten the “star” but wouldn’t budge far enough to do anything but obstruct the gas tube from proper allignment……..I looked at the shop owner and told him…….Hey, I just bought that thing, let’s just go ahead and take it apart to see what the H*** is wrong with it ! ! ………Well, it took more than an HOUR to break it down, all because the “star” just would NOT turn in either direction…….finally ended up in a monster vise and forced it loose. Barrel fit just seemed sloppy, but I wanted to be sure so I started hand cleaning all the threads and mating surfaces…….VIOLA ! ! There was “just enough” machining debri around the threads AND around the barrel locating pin that it was causing the threads to sieze up and never pull enough torgue to hold it tight………once we completely cleaned it out, we were able to handtighten it enough to stop all the slack………..NOW I have it all together and just waiting for a woods trip to northern Maine next weekend to see how it REALLY stands up to Bil R’s standards ! (Yeah, I met Bill Ruger a couple times in and around Newport NH before he left us……….what a GREAT man! )

  24. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Just held one at Cabelas today-highly impressed! May have to put one on layaway as this seems more like a $1000 gun…

  25. avatar Ollie says:

    Just purchased the Rugar AR556 as my first AR a few weeks ago…and first long gun. (Just have a Colt 1911 45ACP)

    Iron sights needed just minor adjustment which I did at a 25 yd indoor range a week ago. (25 yrds not ideal, but worked out OK as you’ll see below.)

    Took to an outdoor range yesterday with my 20 year old son and wow, this thing is accurate and very reliable thus far. About 600 rounds through it so far without a single misfire.

    We were pretty spot on hitting a 10″ steel AR500 plate from 100 yards with just Iron sights from both standing and kneeling positions. Pushed out to 200 yards, and still pretty darn good…again, just Iron sights (my eyesight being the biggest challenge from here!) My buddy is ex- Military and pretty good shot; he was very impressed with it over the 60 rounds he put through it.

    Seems like a pretty good deal at the sub-$700 price we paid at a local shop in the “People’s Republic of California.” (This state sucks…other than the weather!)

    I’m sure no expert, just a novice shooter, but if I can put together pretty good groupings then anyone can.

  26. avatar Steve Holsten says:

    I traded my SW MP 15-22 for the Ruger AR15. I haven’t got to shoot it yet, but I love it.

  27. avatar Just purchased an AR556, 45 rounds later trigger locked, and I can not move to safety lever from Fire to Safe ! This is a brand new ,out of the box fire arm ! says:

    Any advice ?

  28. avatar Just purchased an AR556, 45 rounds later trigger locked, and I can not move to safety lever from Fire to Safe ! This is a brand new ,out of the box fire arm ! says:

    Any advice? Simple fix ?

    1. avatar Maz says:

      I’d look inside for a primer that fell out of a case or some other debris. Luckily, an AR is really easy to totally disassemble as well.

  29. avatar Mark S says:

    Close to a dozen of my friends and I went in on a group buy when the rifle was selling for $550 in mid November. Good luck finding one now for less than $700.
    The Ruger AR556 is a solid rifle. It performs just as well as my Bushmaster that i paid 1k for years ago. Only real difference between the two rifles is the BM has a chrome lined barrel and the Ruger does not. The Ruger barrel is nitrated and because so, will hold up to corrosion very well. Considering no 556 ammo is corrosive, a nitrated barrel may very well outlast a person if even minimally maintained.
    Now, at the range, the Ruger is accurate right out of the box. It was not hard to get 2.5 inch groups at 100 yards using just the iron sights. With a Eotech or a scope, the grouping will only get better.
    In closing, if one can get this rifle for $700 or less, its totally worth it. Its a well made rifle thats not flimsy felling that shoots great. Ruger has a winner with this rifle and most likely will dominate the market with its price point.

  30. avatar Doug Gavilanes says:

    I just ordered my AR-556 in December from Turner’s Outdoor, and I’m just waiting for it to arrive in the store. Is there any way around the front iron sight? I’d like to mount a Sightmark reflex sight, but I’m afraid that the A2 front sight may block it. Anyone already remove the front sight/replace the stock barrell?

    1. avatar Ron Weber says:

      Sightmark works fine. In fact, the sights co-inhabit. No changes necessary. Just attach, sight in, and have fun. I have about 2000 rounds through mine and never lost zero.

  31. avatar Maz says:

    I picked up one to use as the base of a nicely tricked-out carbine build. I got rid of the iron sights and installed a low-profile adjustable gas block, a 4-rail handguard, a 1-6 scope with illuminated dot, and a Ruger Elite 452 2-stage trigger, all for around 400 bucks. Under a grand total, and I have a nicely tricked-out AR that shoots great.

  32. avatar Rudy Ferdinand - Vietnam 11/70 - 11/71 Dong Tam/ Tan An/ CanTho says:

    The Black Rifle is something that I did not want. What the US Army issued to us at the time was CRAP. Vietnam Vet, and what I learned many years later, this year the military real did not test the ammo for the M-16 service weapon issued during the 60s and 70s and beyond. Yes, I have one now, Ruger AR-556. What the Army issed to me in 1969 and into Vietnam a piece of junk along with the ammo. This rifle is a world apart from that thing of the 60s and the 70s. I have replace the hand guard, the trigger, the pistol grip and the BCG (M-16 type). Ruger is a very good gun if not better for the price ($576.00) than many costing much more bucks. Great job Ruger!!!

    1. avatar RF says:

      Update! Since the purchase of Ruger AR-556, I’m finding several things wrong (minor problems) fixable. The round plain nut (castle nut) lose, the magazine button release button installed backwards, and front sight pin installed wrong side, it be installed right to left side, it dropped out, I re-installed it the right way or right side. Ruger’s quality control with me gets a C grade. There one to many things I had to correct, things that Ruger should had caught. Anyone who has bought one just check everything you can think of that might come loose.

  33. avatar Gary Rowlls says:

    I see all these post about Piston Rifles being better than Direct impingement. Just food for thought, Military uses Direct impingement and lives are on the line. I went thru Basic in 1989 and we had old as dirt A1s. Never had a malfunction with it and it was direct impingement. It boils down to personal preference and price you are willing to pay

  34. avatar roy david helmontaller says:

    Great gun. Great price. Ruger doesnt make junk. Get this gun. I paid $635 and its worth every penny and then some. So glad i didn’t go with the Core-15. ? me some Ruger. Picked up the H&K VP40 too….sooooo nice. Perfect fit.

  35. avatar Richard Lutz says:

    A chome plated chamber aids extraction reliability, which some consider an important feature in a tactical rifle that is intended to be used in adverse conditions to save lives. I would not buy a self-loading tactical rifle without this feature.

  36. avatar TwoNiner29r says:

    Good review but the range where you are shooting is a disaster. Please pick up after yourself, and others, so that our public lands can remain open to shooters. Trash pits like this give all shooters a bad name and are the reason why BLM and other government agencies are closing shooting spots. Pack out what you pack and and then some. Keep our lands clean and respect our planet.

  37. avatar jimmy james says:

    This gun, model #8500 from Ruger is etailing for $479 right now. The bottom has fallen out of the MSR market.

  38. avatar former water walker says:

    Yep I’m buying ONE?

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